A Travel Price Comparison for Vietnam Ho Chi Minh City vs. Sapa for Attractions, Food, Nightlife, and Families

Should you visit Ho Chi Minh City or Sapa?

Which is cheaper to visit? Which is more expensive for vacation?

Which city is more affordable and which is best for your travel style? If you're trying to figure out where to go next, comparing the travel costs between Ho Chi Minh City and Sapa can help you decide which place is right for you.

Ho Chi Minh City

Ho Chi Minh City is a busy, diverse, and cultural city. It's an amazing and huge city with tons of activities and things to do. Other reasons to visit include museums, theater, and nightlife.

Sapa

Sapa is a fascinating, picturesque, and cultural town. With fun activities and sights, this is a small town worth visiting. Many visitors also come because of it's amazing beauty. It's also popular because of the shopping, nightlife, and food.

Ho Chi Minh City and Sapa: Pros and Cons

Pros
  • Popular museums and historical sights
  • Numerous theater shows
  • Active nightlife
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Good for students
  • Big city activities
Pros
  • Good for hiking
  • Family-friendly
  • Good for couples and romance
  • Good for backpackers and budget travelers
  • Impressive beauty
Things to Consider
  • Less museums and historical sights
  • Less popular for nightlife


Is there more to do in Ho Chi Minh City or Sapa?

You'll generally find more things to do in Ho Chi Minh City than Sapa. Ho Chi Minh City is bigger than Sapa, and it also has more attractions and activities for travelers. Ho Chi Minh City is better known for its museums, theatre productions, food, nightlife, shopping, and big city activities, while Sapa is more popular for its hiking, small town charm, and impressive beauty. Ho Chi Minh City is well known for its motorbike-filled streets, bustling markets, world-class cuisine, and diverse shopping opportunities. Also, Ho Chi Minh City is famous for the War Remnants Museum. Sapa is well known for its stunning village and mountain trekking, beautiful rice paddies, and colorful weekly markets.

How is Ho Chi Minh City different from Sapa?

Which is Better for a Holiday?

Let's take a look at the differences and similarities between Sapa and Ho Chi Minh City. Then, you can decide for yourself which place is better for your next trip.

Are the Museums and Historical Sights Better in Ho Chi Minh City or Sapa?

Ho Chi Minh City
Sapa

Ho Chi Minh City is a world-class destination for its historical sights. However, Sapa is not a good destination for its sights and museums.

Travelers visit Ho Chi Minh City from around the world to see its many world-famous attractions. It's a day trip outside of town, but the Cu Chi Tunnels are a must-see stop for any visitor. The War Remnants Museum is also a not-to-be-missed spot. Other highlights of the city include Thiên Hau Temple, the Notre Dame Cathedral Basilica, the Saigon Opera House, and the Reunification Palace.

Sapa offers a handful of options for museums and historical sights. While the many nearby villages are filled with markets and culture and have the feel of living museums, there are few actual museums in the area.


Is Ho Chi Minh City or Sapa Better for Theater?

Ho Chi Minh City
Sapa

Ho Chi Minh City is very good for theatre. However, Sapa is not a theatre destination.

If you have some extra time in Ho Chi Minh City, take in a show. Water puppetry is a traditional art form that originated in the rural areas and was brought to the city. It is a fun cultural experience that kids and adults both enjoy. You can see it at The Golden Dragon Water Puppet Theatre.

Sapa is not a theatre destination.

Is the Food Better in Ho Chi Minh City or Sapa? Which Destination has the Best Restaurants?

Ho Chi Minh City
Sapa

Ho Chi Minh City is a world-class destination for its local flavors and cuisine. Also, Sapa is not as popular, but is still a nice town for its local cuisine and restaurants.

Ho Chi Minh City has long been recognized as a culinary destination with great restaurants. This city, arguably, has some of the best food in Vietnam. You'll find everything from food stalls selling mouthwatering street food to luxury restaurants preparing traditional dishes with a modern twist. Banh Mi (a Vietnamese sandwich) and Pho (Vietnamese soup) are the most well known dishes around town, but also try the Bún mắm (a noodle dish) and Bún bò Huế (a beef based soup).

Eating is part of the travel experience when you visit Sapa. The area's food highlights the local agricultural scene with lots of meat, fish, and vegetables. If you want to check out traditional Hmong cuisine, Thang Co is one of the most common dishes. It's a soup that has a strong smell and is prepared with local herbs and meats.

Is Ho Chi Minh City or Sapa Better for Nightlife?

Ho Chi Minh City
Sapa

Ho Chi Minh City is a world-class destination for nightlife. Also, Sapa is not as popular, but is still a nice town for nightlife and partying.

People head to Ho Chi Minh City just to party. The city never settles down and you'll find all night parties and dance clubs open into the early hours. Backpackers keep the energy high, but there are also luxury clubs and more relaxed places where you can have a good night out if the backpacker thing isn't your scene.

There's a variety of activities in the evening in Sapa. While you don't visit the area for its nightlife, there's a big backpacker scene here so you'll likely find a crowd looking for a good time. The town has a night market and there are plenty of bars that cater to the tourists.


Is Ho Chi Minh City or Sapa Better for Hiking?

Ho Chi Minh City
Sapa

Sapa is a world-class destination for hiking. However, Ho Chi Minh City is not a hiking destination.

Many people visit Sapa specifically for its hiking. Trekking is, by far, one of the best ways to experience the area's beauty. You'll pass by scenic rice paddies, walk along mist covered mountains, and stumble into fascinating villages. Many people hire a local guide to guide them. This helps the local economy and offers insider information.

Ho Chi Minh City is not a hiking destination.

Is the Shopping Better in Ho Chi Minh City or Sapa?

Ho Chi Minh City
Sapa

Ho Chi Minh City is a world-class destination for shopping. Also, Sapa is not as popular, but is still a nice town for its shopping opportunities.

People travel from around the world to go shopping in Ho Chi Minh City. The city is filled with a mix of modern shopping centers and local shops selling traditional items. You'll find international brands as well as uniquely Vietnamese products. The city also has some of the best boutique shopping opportunities in Southeast Asia.

Sapa is a popular shopping destination with plenty of stores. Many villages have a weekly market that is very fascinating to explore. In addition to local food items, there are often locally made handicrafts that make great souvenirs from your travels.

Is Ho Chi Minh City or Sapa Better for Families?

Ho Chi Minh City
Sapa

Ho Chi Minh City is a world-class destination for its kid-friendly activities. Also, Sapa is not as popular, but is still a nice town for its family-friendly activities.

Ho Chi Minh City is one of the most popular family destinations. Kids may feel overwhelmed at first, but they're sure to fall in love with the energy and kid-friendly activities in this city. There are traditional water puppet shows, kid-friendly restaurants, and fun parks. There's also the Suoi Tien Theme Park, smaller water parks, zoos, and art museums to explore.

Sapa is a very kid-friendly city. Many people arrive via an overnight train, which is an adventure for the whole family. Once you arrive, your kids will experience a local culture that is uniquely its own. You can participate in a homestay and enjoy meals prepared by a local family. There are also many kid-friendly hikes through the surrounding mountains.


Is Ho Chi Minh City or Sapa Better for Couples?

Ho Chi Minh City
Sapa

Both Ho Chi Minh City and Sapa are very good destinations to visit as a couple.

Ho Chi Minh City is a great city if you're traveling as a couple. If you're looking for a vibrant cultural scene with excellent restaurants, great parks, and countless day trips, this is the ultimate couple's getaway.

Sapa is a very popular place to visit for couples. Couples who enjoy experiencing unique cultures and hiking through stunning mountain settings will love a trip to this mountain town. While the tourists have definitely discovered the area, there are still places that have a local vibe with traditional Vietnamese markets and homesteads.

Is Ho Chi Minh City or Sapa Better for Backpackers and Budget Travelers?

Ho Chi Minh City
Sapa

Ho Chi Minh City is a world-class destination for backpackers and budget travelers. Also, Sapa is not as popular, but is still a nice town for backpackers.

Many backpackers frequent Ho Chi Minh City. It's well established on the Southeast Asian backpacker's circuit and you'll find no shortage of hostels in town. You'll find a good number of backpackers in District 1 of the city, near Ben Thanh Market. Many backpackers also arrange trips to the Mekong Delta or elsewhere in Thailand while they're here.

Sapa is a great city to visit for backpackers. Like much of Southeast Asia, this town and the surrounding areas are solidly on the backpacker trail. You'll find cheap places to stay and tours that cater specifically to the budget and backpacker crowd.

Is Ho Chi Minh City or Sapa Better for Students?

Ho Chi Minh City
Sapa

Ho Chi Minh City is very good for its student-friendly activities. However, Sapa is not popular with students.

It's common for students to visit Ho Chi Minh City. Study abroad students appreciate the city's energy and plethora of activities. It also makes a good base for trips to other parts of Southeast Asia.

Sapa is not popular with students.


Is Ho Chi Minh City or Sapa Better for Public Transit? Which Is Easier to Get Around Without a Car?

Ho Chi Minh City
Sapa

Sapa is very good for times when you don't have a car. However, Ho Chi Minh City is not a good destination for its public transit.

While Sapa offers some public transit options, it might not be your first choice. There are public buses through the region. If you're hoping to visit nearby towns for their market days, an organized tour or private guide is a good option.

Public transit is generally limited in Ho Chi Minh City. There are public buses around town but motorbike taxis and regular taxis are likely your best bet for getting around.

Is Ho Chi Minh City or Sapa a more walkable city?

Ho Chi Minh City
Sapa

Sapa is great for its ease of walking around. Also, Ho Chi Minh City is not as popular, but is still a nice city for its walkability.

Sapa is a very walkable destination. Trekking is, by far, the best way to experience the area and all of the beauty and culture that it has to offer.

Ho Chi Minh City is somewhat walkable. In certain neighborhoods it's fairly walkable, but you may have to dodge a motorbike here or there.

For even more information, also check out Is Ho Chi Minh City Worth Visiting? and Is Sapa Worth Visiting?.

Should I spend more time in Sapa or Ho Chi Minh City?

How long in Ho Chi Minh City or Sapa?

It's fun to spend time in either Ho Chi Minh City or Sapa. In our opinion, Ho Chi Minh City has more to see and do, so we recommend that you spend more time in Ho Chi Minh City than Sapa. In general, 3-4 days is a good amount of time for Ho Chi Minh City, and 2-4 days is enough time in Sapa.

Families should spend more time in Ho Chi Minh City than Sapa. Because of the many family-friendly attractions and fun things to do for kids in Ho Chi Minh City, it's a great place to visit with the whole family.

Couples should spend more time in Ho Chi Minh City than Sapa. You'll find plenty of romantic sights and fun activities in Ho Chi Minh City that are great for a weekend getaway or a longer couple's trip.

Backpackers and budget travelers should spend more time in Ho Chi Minh City than Sapa if your budget allows for it. With a larger number of budget-friendly sights, good nightlife, and active things to do, anyone traveling on a budget would have a good time in Ho Chi Minh City.


  • How many days in Ho Chi Minh City or Sapa? Ideal Length of Stay
    Ho Chi Minh City 3-4 
    Sapa 2-4

One day in Ho Chi Minh City or Sapa?

Ho Chi Minh City is a big city destination where you can fill many days. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything.

You'll find shopping and nightlife around the fascinating destination of Sapa. Hikers are also drawn to this area. With so much to do, one day is probably not enough time to see everything. This town offers a variety of activities to choose from.


A weekend in Ho Chi Minh City or Sapa?

Ho Chi Minh City is a fun place to experience. But since there are so many activities, you'll likely want to spend more than a weekend exploring. The entire region has so many activities, and you'll want time to do everything.

You'll find nightlife and food around the cultural town of Sapa. If you have a weekend, this town makes for a great vacation. Many visitors also spend a good bit of time hiking. The length of your ideal trip is an individual decision. Most people head to the area for the hiking. This would be the perfect place to spend a weekend, as it has just the right amount of activities.

Five days in Ho Chi Minh City or Sapa?

You'll find shopping and museums around the vibrant big city of Ho Chi Minh City. This city offers something for everyone. Five days is plenty of time to see everything, even with extra days to spare.

Sapa is a popular choice for travelers. Make sure you spend some time hiking while you're in the area. It will give you the chance to have new experiences. Five days may feel like too much time unless you plan to do a lot of relaxing.

A week in Ho Chi Minh City or Sapa?

The cultural city of Ho Chi Minh City offers museums and theater. The length of your trip often depends on your style of travel. One week is usually plenty of time to spend here with extra days to spare. With this much time, visitors often visit nearby destinations or take day trips.

Sapa is a great place to explore. Many travelers plan to spend time hiking while in the area. Take your pick from the many activities offered here. Most people head to the area for the hiking. Most people find that one week is more than enough time to see everything.


For some great organized tour ideas, see The Best Historical Tours in Vietnam, The Best 10-Day Tours in Vietnam, The Best One Week (7-Day) Tours in Vietnam, and The Best 2-Week Tours in Vietnam.


Which place is cheaper, Sapa or Ho Chi Minh City?

These are the overall average travel costs for the two destinations.

The average daily cost (per person) in Ho Chi Minh City is $80, while the average daily cost in Sapa is $35. These costs include accommodation (assuming double occupancy, so the traveler is sharing the room), food, transportation, and entertainment. While every person is different, these costs are an average of past travelers in each destination. What follows is a categorical breakdown of travel costs for Ho Chi Minh City and Sapa in more detail.



Accommodation
  • Accommodation Hotel or hostel for one person
    Ho Chi Minh City $48
    Sapa $12
  • Accommodation Typical double-occupancy room
    Ho Chi Minh City $96
    Sapa $24
Compare Hotels in Ho Chi Minh City and Sapa

Looking for a hotel in Ho Chi Minh City or Sapa? Prices vary by location, date, season, and the level of luxury. See below for options and compare which is best for your budget and travel style.

Hotels in Ho Chi Minh City


Hotels in Sapa


Kayak helps you find the best prices for hotels, flights, and rental cars for destinations around the world. Compare prices for multiple destinations when planning your next trip.


Our Analysis
We've analyzed the average and typical hotel prices based on guest reviews, star ratings, and hotel amenities here: Ho Chi Minh City Hotel Prices and Sapa Hotel Prices.

Local Transportation
  • Local Transportation Taxis, local buses, subway, etc.
    Ho Chi Minh City $15
    Sapa $9.27
Typical Local Transportation Prices in Ho Chi Minh City

Here are some examples of typical transportation prices from actual travelers in Ho Chi Minh City:


  • Short Taxi Ride
    $1.38
  • Taxi From Airport
    $7.87
  • Cyclo Ride (One Hour)
    $1.57

Hired Cars and Shuttles in Ho Chi Minh City

Also for Ho Chi Minh City, here are a few examples of actual transportation services:

  • Private taxi transfer from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh: $358
  • Private Taxi transfer from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City: $358
  • Private Taxi transfer from Ho Chi Minh to Phnom Penh: $358
  • Private Transfer from Tan Son Nhat (SGN) Airport to Phnom Penh: $295
  • Private Transfer from Tan Son Nhat (SGN) Airport to Nha Trang: $277
  • Private Transfer: Ho Chi Minh City - Chau Doc/Rach Gia: $268
  • Private Transfer from Tan Son Nhat (SGN) Airport to Cam Ranh: $263
  • Private Transfer: Ho Chi Minh City Center/ Airport - Mui Ne/Phan Thiet: $258
  • Private Transfer from Cam Ranh to Tan Son Nhat (SGN) Airport: $249
  • Private Transfer from Tan Son Nhat (SGN) Airport to Phang Rang Thap Cham: $239
  • Private Transfer from Tan Son Nhat (SGN) Airport to Da Lat: $239
  • Private Transfer from Tan Son Nhat (SGN) Airport to Ca Mau: $232

Typical Local Transportation Prices in Sapa

Some typical examples of transportation costs in Sapa are as follows:


  • Short Motorbike Ride
    $1.18

Is it cheaper to fly into Ho Chi Minh City or Sapa?

Prices for flights to both Sapa and Ho Chi Minh City change regularly based on dates and travel demand. We suggest you find the best prices for your next trip on Kayak, because you can compare the cost of flights across multiple airlines for your prefered dates.





Food
  • Food Meals for one day
    Ho Chi Minh City $14
    Sapa $16
Typical Food Prices in Ho Chi Minh City

Here are some examples of typical meal expenses from previous travelers to Ho Chi Minh City:


  • Street Food Dinner (for Two)
    $4.21
  • Pizza
    $5.12
  • Sweet Rice
    $1.18
  • Pork Sandwich
    $0.59
  • Casual Lunch (for Two)
    $6.68
  • Western Lunch (for Two)
    $12

Food Tours and Cooking Classes in Ho Chi Minh City

For Ho Chi Minh City, here are some samples of tours and activities related to meals and dining experiences:

  • Saigon: Street Food Tour: $4.09
  • Saigon Food Tour & Culture Explore Ho Chi Minh City Walking Tour: $15
  • Saigon Unseen & Food Tour By scooter w Student | Saigon Adventure: $19
  • Saigon tour Walking Chinatown or HCM city walking food tour: $19
  • Private Walking Food Tour with Local Students : $26
  • Ho Chi Minh Street Food Tour By Motorbike/Car + Sightseeing + Fun: $26
  • Saigon: Backstreets Private Walking Food Tour & 10 Tastings: $27
  • Food Tour by Scooter with Eleven Tastings: $27
  • Super Niche Walking Street Food Tour in Ho Chi Minh City: $28
  • Private Walking Food Tour with 13 Tastings: $28
  • Saigon Private Walking Food Tour with Thirteen Tastings: $28
  • Saigon Private Eleven-Tastings Food Tour by Scooter: $28

Typical Food Prices in Sapa

Here are some examples of typical meal expenses from previous travelers to Sapa:


  • Casual Dinner (for One)
    $2.68
  • Quick Breakfast (for Two)
    $2.16
  • Coffee (for Two)
    $2.36
  • Western Dinner (for Two)
    $7.84
  • Pho Soup
    $0.59

Entertainment
  • Entertainment Entrance tickets, shows, etc.
    Ho Chi Minh City $20
    Sapa $6.04
Typical Entertainment Prices in Ho Chi Minh City

For Ho Chi Minh City, here are some examples of average entertainment and activity prices from previous travelers:


  • Massage
    $5.51

Tours and Activities in Ho Chi Minh City

Also, here are some specific examples of entertainment, tickets, and activities for Ho Chi Minh City.

  • Cu Chi Tunnels half day tours: $39
  • From Ho Chi Minh to Mui Ne 3 Days Tour | 4 Star Beach Resort : $170
  • Historical Walking Tour of Saigon: $29
  • Mekong Delta Discovery Day Tour - My Tho - Ben Tre: $46
  • Mekong Vespa Tour 5 hours: $92
  • Mui Ne,Fairy Spring, Sand dunes, Fishing Village, Private Tour: $290
  • Non-Touristy Mekong Delta with Biking in Ben Tre Private Tour: $40
  • Private Mekong Delta 1 Day Tour: $65
  • Private Tour Water Puppet Show And Cruise Tour On Saigon River : $65
  • Saigon Vegetarian Tour by Motorbike and Scooter: $39
  • Small Group Tour to Cu Chi Tunnels and cruise Mekong Delta in a day: $48
  • 'Cost-Saving' Cu Chi Tunnels & Mekong Delta 1-Day Tour: $65

Typical Entertainment Prices in Sapa

For Sapa, here are some examples of average entertainment and activity prices from previous travelers:


  • CatCat Village Tax
    $1.57
  • Ta Phin Village Tax
    $0.79
  • Walking Stick
    $0.20
  • Paddle Boat Rental on Sapa Lake (1 Hr)
    $3.15

Alcohol
  • Alcohol Drinks for one day
    Ho Chi Minh City $7.86
    Sapa $8.06
Typical Alcohol Prices in Ho Chi Minh City

Below are a few samples from actual travelers for alcohol and nightlife costs in Ho Chi Minh City:


  • Beer
    $0.39

Typical Alcohol Prices in Sapa

Some typical examples of the costs for nightlife and alcohol in Sapa are as follows:


  • Two Beers
    $0.98


When we compare the travel costs of actual travelers between Ho Chi Minh City and Sapa, we can see that Ho Chi Minh City is more expensive. And not only is Sapa much less expensive, but it is actually a significantly cheaper destination. So, traveling to Sapa would let you spend less money overall. Or, you could decide to spend more money in Sapa and be able to afford a more luxurious travel style by staying in nicer hotels, eating at more expensive restaurants, taking tours, and experiencing more activities. The same level of travel in Ho Chi Minh City would naturally cost you much more money, so you would probably want to keep your budget a little tighter in Ho Chi Minh City than you might in Sapa.

If you're trying to decide if either of these two destinations are within your price range, also see Is Ho Chi Minh City Expensive? and Is Sapa Expensive?.


Which is Bigger, Ho Chi Minh City or Sapa?

Ho Chi Minh City has a larger population, and is about 30 times larger than the population of Sapa. When comparing the sizes of Ho Chi Minh City and Sapa, keep in mind that a larger population does not always imply the destination has more attractions or better activities. So, always research the type of place that you want to visit along with the activities and attractions that interest you.